One of the essential elements of commercial and public building safety is emergency light for the reason that it allows all occupants to evacuate the premises safely in the event of a fire or another emergency within the building. Emergency lighting is a system of luminaires that consists of both emergency escape lighting and standby lighting. Emergency lighting system automatically activates when the power supply to the regular lighting fails.
Such life-saving tool needs to be tested on a regular basis. However, a lot of emergency lighting systems are not up to safety standards. It can cause severe legal and financial consequences for business owners.
All non-domestic structures and buildings, as well as common areas of houses with multiple occupancies, require emergency escape lighting. First of all, you need to know what classification your structure or building falls under. Details of building and purpose groups classifications can be found in Technical Guidance Document B by the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government. There are also references to where you can obtain fire safety guidelines, including emergency light requirements, for your particular kind of structure.
Safety standards and regulations provide guidance to the requirements of different premises. These regulations are in place to ensure a set of emergency light testing measures to make sure all elements of the system are in a suitable working condition.
The standards that govern escape lighting in Ireland are I.S. 3217:2013 and A1:2017. They are issued by the National Standards Authority of Ireland. These emergency lighting standards impose responsibilities on building owners to install a proper system in case of failure of regular lighting. The number of fixtures and type of system should be selected according to function, size and risk assessment of the property. A person in charge has to contact a qualified professional to plan an emergency light that is suitable for the building.
Scheduling is a key component of any reliable emergency lighting system. According to an I.S. 3217:2013 standard, the minimum testing requirements are:
All indicators must show correct operation and no faults registered. Any deficiencies or defects recorded in the logbook have to be fixed.
Besides the daily test, you have to make sure all non-illuminating lamps are replaced. Carry out a visual check on at least 1/4 of the emergency lighting. Thus, you will be able to check the whole system at least every four weeks.
A three-hour system requires a 30-minute duration test, whereas for a one-hour system you will need to run a 10-minute test.
It is necessary to run a full duration test every year. The annual test checks that all the lights turn on and stay on for 1-3 hours, depending on the batteries you are using. For self-contained premises, it is necessary to complete a second three-hour test within one day after the first to ensure the battery has fully recharged.
The test can take place at any time. However, it is crucial to keep in mind that the battery will not be fully charged after. So, your premise’s safety could be compromised in case a real-life failure of the mains lighting occurred immediately after testing.
For that reason, testing should take place at lower risk periods, for instance, outside opening or working hours of the building.
Emergency lighting testing is a legal obligation. Failure to comply with emergency lighting standards and to test the system adequately may result in considerable penalties. The business owner is fully responsible for inspection, maintenance schedules and standards compliance. Non-compliance can lead to high-cost repercussions and, what is worse, injury to occupants.